The House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill (H.R. 6275) this week that would temporarily prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) from expanding its reach to families who are mostly well-off, but not as wealthy as those the tax was originally intended to target. Almost all lawmakers agree that this step should be taken. But President Bush and Republican leaders oppose the Ways and Means bill because it offsets the cost of AMT relief with revenue-raising provisions in order to avoid an increase in the budget deficit.
The AMT was created to ensure that wealthy Americans pay at least some federal income taxes no matter how skillful they are at finding loopholes. It is reasonable that Congress wants to prevent it from affecting more families, but as argued in a new report from CTJ, there is no reason why the deficit should be increased to provide tax relief for those who are relatively well-off. The Ways and Means bill would offset the cost of AMT relief mainly by closing unwarranted tax loopholes, which will in turn make the tax code fairer and more economically efficient.